Chris Kline’s AFL Road Trip: Q&A With Stephen Drew

PHOENIX’"Like Angels righthander Jered Weaver, Diamondbacks shortstop
Stephen Drew was better known for a contract holdout than being of the
future cornerstones of the Arizona organization . . . at least until
June, when he signed for $4 million bonus minutes before re-entering
the draft.

During his holdout, Drew opted to play independent ball in Camden to
showcase his talent and display his skills following a long layoff. The
15th overall pick out of Florida State in 2004 then batted .389-10-39
in 149 at-bats at high Class A Lancaster in his pro debut before being
called up to Double-A Tennessee. Drew battled a quadriceps injury with
the Smokies, throwing off his timing and hitting.218-4-13 in 101

He jumped back on track in Arizona, earning AFL player of the week
honors over the first full week, batting .441 with four homers. We
caught up with Drew to talk about his mindset during the holdout,
playing right across the river from the city that once threw batteries
at his brother J.D. for not signing with the Phillies, and his first
taste of life as a pro.

Baseball America: Was there ever a time you doubted what you were
doing during the holdout’"not returning to Florida State and being
pretty much in limbo as to what you could and couldn’™t do?

Stephen Drew: No, not really. I thought deep down inside that
something would work out. And I really did think that something was
going to pull through and great things did happen, so this is where I
am right now. Everything worked out for the best.

BA: So before everything worked out, you went to Camden’"right
across the river from a city that didn’™t exactly treat your brother
very kindly. Did you get any after effects from that?

SD: Not really. I think I knew what to expect when I went in there. I mean, that’™s 10 years we’™re talking about . . .

BA: But it’™s also Philadelphia fans we’™re talking about . . .

SD: But still, I just didn’™t go in there with the mindset, ‘˜They’™re
gonna boo me and this and that.’™ You know, the team gave me an
opportunity to go up there and show what I could do. I had fun up there
with those guys and had a good time.”

BA: So that’™s how you’™d encapsulate that experience, as “a good time”?

SD: It was real good to get out there. I mean, you have to get out
there and face some competition at one time or another to keep you in a
groove and that’™s what it did for me. I had good exposure and good
experience. The age difference was a lot, just like in the majors.
There’™s 35-year-old guys, 37, 24, you name it. I was the youngest guy
on there.”

BA: So you sign, jump into the Cal League where you just get on a
roll. What was that experience like and how much did you feel like you
had something to prove’"even more than in playing in indy ball?

SD: It was good, I just came out and was seeing the ball well and it
kind of went from there. I didn’™t really feel like I had anything to
prove, I was just trying to stay within myself and play the game the
way I’™ve always played it. Just tried to have good at-bats and not give
anything away.

BA: Your numbers in Double-A pale in comparison to the numbers
you put up at Lancaster, but you went through the quad injury. How much
did that kind of linger and affect your overall approach?

SD: It was tough. I hurt my right quad and then I missed like a week
and a half, but it stayed with me before and after. When I came back, I
started off slow. At the end of that week, I came back slow, but I had
one more week (before the season ended). I came back, though. I was
hitting balls hard, but really had nothing to show for it.

BA: Who is the toughest pitcher you’™ve faced since signing?

SD: Don’™t know. I don’™t keep up with that. I just go out and play everyday.

BA: Do you miss playing for Florida State and head coach Mike Martin at all?

SD: It was fun there. I mean, it really was. It was a good
experience there too. I think it helped me out for the long run to make
me what I am today.

BA: What’™s your relationship like with your older brothers (Tim and J.D., both of whom were also first-round picks)?

SD: We’™re pretty close. It’™s tough to talk during the season, I
probably talk to J.D. once a week or something like that. J.D. and I
like to go saltwater fishing in the offseason. That’™s all I do when
baseball is over’"just hunt and fish.